Most lifelong readers can relate to the journey of reading a book when you’re younger and then trying to remember the book when describing as an adult. Remember? That elusive favorite book of all time that slip away from your memory? And you forgot about it? Does that sound familiar? The one thing I always remember is the joy it gave you. The joy is always there. Today’s story time is about that joy from a mystery book I found in an elementary school library in Texas.
When I was in 5th grade, I have memories of going to the library all the time. I believe we were able to go once a week in elementary school, but I remember it a lot more in that last year. Sure; there are memories of the kindly librarian sitting in a rocking chair and reading about Bunnicula or the time they created a forest in the loft out of construction paper. However, going to the library in 5th grade was so prominent in my mind because I kept checking out the same book. The title? Who knows.
My memory of the story is this: the book was a murder mystery about a girl that’s being followed by something. Whatever it is, it helps her handle a dangerous situation. No one really believes her, but she knows its real. I checked it out from the library countless times. I tried to read other books (and did of course), but I wanted to read the book again and again. My love for female-led mystery books was an early passion.
I remember that it was a Texas Bluebonnet Winner because the book had the sticker on the spine, but couldn’t remember what year. I assumed the award was given to it somewhere around 1997-2000. A friend suggested I look at the award lists for those years, but none of the titles jumped out at me. I could see the cover of the book so clearly in my mind, but that was about it. Plus those lists are several books long and, after a while, you’re just reading it like a grocery list.
For years, I’ve searched “YA books with girl on mountain” or “YA books with girl hanging off cliff”. and wouldn’t get any results. I was young when I read it. It should pop up. Right? Nope.
The thing is: I was maybe 11 years old when I read this book for the first time. While working on a reading challenge list this year, I realized that there might be a difference between children’s books and YA when searching for the book cover. I had been searching for it all wrong. So I tried it: “Children’s books with girl hanging off cliff”.
The Ghost of Fossil Glen is by Cynthia DeFelice, winner of the 2000 Texas Bluebonnet award and generally for readers between the grades of 4-6. The book is about a fossil hunter named Allie who is being pursued by a ghost from one of her nightmares. She knows the girl falls to her death, but who she is and why she’s following Allie remain a mystery. This book has four in the series that I had no idea about until a few weeks ago.
I wanted to talk to ghosts! I wanted to hunt fossils! We went camping that same year and I could have sworn I found a fossil in the rocks near the lake. I couldn’t hear ghosts there, but it was fun to pretend I was Allie.
It’s also gone through some cover changes. I might have seen it in my previous searches, but missed it because I didn’t know the title. Is it just me or does she look younger in the new cover (left)? She’s supposed to be 11 years old if that helps.
Finding this book and seeing the cover again makes me want to revisit my favorite books from my childhood. I’m curious to know if anyone else has ever revisited books they read as a kid. With popular classics like A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, and The Lord of the Rings being made into movies, I know a lot of people have been rereading old books. Still love? Wondering why you loved it? So let me know in the comments if you did and how it went.
Happy Reading Everyone!